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Friday, May 11, 2012

Take Care of Your Back - Trucker Horror Story!

 Heather and Lou, thanks so much for sharing this info with others! I am so sorry about the situation you are in and wish you both the best. Please consult a good lawyer, maybe there is some recourse. I think one of your most profound points was the fact of the option to decline worker's comp. I didn't know that was possible. I hope you don't mind, I want to share this with as many drivers as I can reach through re-posting in my blog,with due credit to you of course. Good luck to the both of you, and keep us posted! Thanks so much.
Link to their site follows below, Dan  Thanks to
Fundraiser if you can help

You know the old addage, "Do unto others as you'd want them to do unto you?" It should also have a twist of "Do unto your back as you'd want your back to do unto you."

Everyone knows your back has your back. But, if you don't have your back's back, your back won't have your back anymore. (Confusing enough yet?)

I am writing this in hopes someone out there will listen, heed my advice, and save themselves heartaches, headaches, and lifeaches. (Yes, I just made the word up.)

Men and women are both severely hard headed. Any time there's pain, unless the person is a hypochondriac or schizophrenic, they try to shake it off. They try to make themselves believe it'll get better, or that it's a mind over matter thing. Anyone reading this has been there. I was there. When I was temporarily paralyzed, my stupid self believed I'd wake up the next morning and walk. It didn't happen. I'm lucky when it happens now, but now at least I know what the issue is.

Lou shook it off, denied it, did the mind over matter thing, for six months. Six months is a long time to allow a severe back injury to not be treated. Now, six months later, his hardedness has led to his "world being turned upside down."

In October, we took an emergency trans load, paying through the nose for us to go from Amarillo to Albuquerque empty, then from Albuquerque to Tracy loaded. The truck dealership the load was abandoned at had agreed to help with the transload when the big carrier brokering the load out spoke to them. They didn't. We had five 5000-7000 pound military trailers to attempt to transload by ourselves.

As I changed into shorts and a tank top (I was wearing slacks and a blouse) to be able to assist in the transload, Lou chose to try and do it alone. His main concern was always my back, and he knew how much pain I'd be in if I helped switch the load to our trailer. He actually moved one trailer onto our trailer, but his body screamed, and he had to wait for me. When we started getting ready to continue, two Knight Transportation drivers jumped in to help out. After we moved another trailer with their help, a Marten Transportation driver jumped out. I would like to thank those three from the bottom of our hearts. If you guys ever read this, the camaraderie shown by the three of you was off the top, and we will never forget the hard work it took to help us out that day. 

If it weren't for the three gentlemen helping us out, I do believe Lou and I would have both been in the emergency room that day together. Lou walked away with pain he had never felt before. 

Let me backtrack on Lou for a minute, then I'll fill you in on the rest of the story and give you advice to take to the bank.

Lou started bull riding in high school. He quit when he realized that, although he might be good, he'd never make it to the pro circuit. He then went to bed bugging. He was one of those guys that you see carrying appliances by theirselves or see them carrying a couch on their back, thinking, "He's going to regret that later on in life." He then moved onto flatbedding, and specialized hauling. Twelve hour tarp jobs were nothing, helping move heavy freight was part of the job. All of this, from high school on, caused the issues to come around with the ferocity that they did. This isolated incident was just the straw that broke the camel's back. 

We had to stop early the next day. Lou was in so much pain that he couldn't stand to be in the driver's seat. We got a hotel, he stretched out, and there was no change the next morning. A few days later, the pain was still nagging at him, and we took him to a chiropractor, who gave him some short lived relief.

For the next six months, anything from sleeping wrong to twisting wrong to lifting tarps to just about anything made Lou's back scream in pain. He tried to treat it with long, hot baths, OTC pain relievers, and went to a massage therapist on our last trip through Primm. The pain became excruciating after the massage. By the time we made it to Cedar Rapids, he was having problems lifting himself into the truck. We went to the emergency room. The doctor believed it was a bulging or herniating disc, and ordered him to bed rest. Three days later, he was feeling no better, so we went to a different E.R. Same conclusion came from there, except they told him no bed rest. Neither E.R. could order an MRI though. We took our load to PA, then brought one to TX. We then went to a third E.R., trying to get an immediate MRI. No luck there either. So, the doctor ordered the MRI for us. 

Lou's world has been turned upside down. An hour before the MRI yesterday, his company cancelled his contract. Loyalty and being the top earner mean nothing to them, and apparently, it was appropriate to kick the man who tried to overlook several contract breaches on their part down further. (We are exploring our options on how to pursue at the current time.) The hoot of it all is this shitty company knew when his MRI was, so there was no accidental timing flaw. 

Today, the diagnosis came. It's grim to say the least. He's herniated at the L4-L5, with nerve root compression at the right S1. The herniation is pressing into the thecal sac and is herniated to the right and center. He's also got facet hypertrophy. Basically, he will have to have surgery, and with back surgery, your best chances are 50/50. 

The worst part is, he let above named company convince him to opt out of worker's comp. Lou had never been hurt, had practiced safe lifting practices, and felt it was an extraneous expense when we were attempting to buy our truck and trailer. On top of that, we were comparing health insurance companies so we could get a policy started in June, while saving up for our premium. His injury fell in at the wrong time.

If you read this, walk away with this please! If you're in severe pain, be seen immediately. Prolonging being seen and working will only further your chances of permanent damage. If you don't have it now, get health insurance, and if you can, get worker's comp. Protect yourself. It doesn't matter your age, or how physically fit you are, shit does happen.

As for us, Lou can't walk five feet without screaming. I'm now his caregiver while in excruciating pain myself. I'm trying to sell advertising, and branching my business out to include other things, to try to pay the rent, bills, and be able to eat. Lou is done trucking for at least several months while we also struggle to figure out how we will paying for expensive specialist bills and the impending surgery with cash. We are awaiting the decision of St. Christopher's, while doing fundraising of our own. His gross was too high for any other form of assistance now, although our net, like most owner operators, would allow us to pull it if they didn't look at gross. He can't qualify for disability until the doctor signs off on it, and most people are denied two or three times before they are accepted. We've got a long road to go, and Lou is scared we won't make it. 

I will keep everyone on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook up-to-date on fundraising efforts by others. Right now, due to Mitchell Stein's persistence, we've got a fundraiser online you can visit here . 

Please, take care of your back, and the rest of your body. It's a tough blow to have it throw you out of your life and lifestyle.
Fundraiser, if can possibly help!

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